UK health experts have advice for the U.S. on fighting the new Covid strain
Government figures released on Thursday said Britain recorded 37,892 new infections with 1,290 deaths. A day earlier, the U.K. recorded an all-time record high of Covid fatalities, when data showed an additional 1,820 people had died within 28 days of a positive Covid test.
Dr. Deepti Gurdasani, clinical epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London, stressed that it was clear from the U.K. response that unless aggressive measures were taken immediately, “the variant will rapidly spread geographically, as well as increase in frequency in places where it has established into the community.”
Gurdasani cited findings from a closely watched study led by researchers at Imperial College London that showed “no evidence of decline” in Covid rates between Jan. 6 to Jan. 15 despite England being in lockdown, “suggesting that even with restrictions, it is difficult to contain this effectively due to higher transmissibility.”
Researchers of the study, published Thursday, warned that U.K. health services would remain under “extreme pressure” and the cumulative number of deaths would increase rapidly unless the prevalence of the virus in the community were reduced substantially.
“All this means that the window for containment is very short. Given the lower active surveillance in the U.S., the variant may have spread wider than anticipated, and policy to contain must reflect this,” Gurdasani said.
“This means strict containment efforts not just where the variant was identified, but in all regions where it could have spread. And active surveillance with contact tracing to identify all possible cases, while maintaining strict restrictions to break chains of transmission.”